Lives of the fellows

Robert McLaren Todd

b.27 September 1915 d.11 March 2008
BA Cantab(1937) MB BChir(1940) MRCS LRCP(1940) DCH(1943) MRCP(1945) MD(1946) FRCP(1965)

Robert McLaren Todd was a reader in child health at the University of Liverpool. He was born at Syston, Leicestershire, the elder son of Robert Alexander McLaren Todd, a pharmacist, and Edith Ann Todd (née Walker). Robert attended the local Syston Church of England School, before going to Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys. He then went to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.

After qualifying, he obtained a house surgeon post in ENT and maxillofacial surgery at Bart’s, followed by a senior house physician post at Bart’s/St Albans. He was then a resident medical officer at Leicester Royal Infirmary. In 1946 he was a medical registrar at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, London.

In 1947 he was appointed the first senior lecturer (and later the first reader) in the recently established department of child health at the University of Liverpool. Robert’s initial role was to run the Medical Research Council trial of streptomycin in the treatment of tuberculosis meningitis at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Robert had a short spell at Harvard as a Fulbright scholar in 1953 researching into endocrine disorders, but otherwise continued as consultant paediatrician at Alder Hey and also at the Liverpool Maternity Hospital until he retired in 1979. At the Liverpool Maternity Hospital he was responsible for the creation of the special care baby unit, the first such unit in the Merseyside region. In 1949 he founded the Liverpool Paediatric Club. He was its first secretary and was present at the golden jubilee celebrations in 1999.

Throughout his career he produced a steady stream of some 80 papers and textbook chapters on paediatric problems, ranging from tuberculosis, nephrotic syndrome and gastroenteritis, to neonatal hypophosphatasia and islet cell tumour of the newborn.

Robert played the organ, which he began as a schoolboy. He won organ prizes in 1933 and 1934, and was much in demand as a wedding organist when a medical student. In 1941 he was admitted as a lay reader in the Church of England and served as reader in the dioceses of Leicester, London and Liverpool (St Mary’s, Wavertree) for 66 years. Robert was keen on crosswords and enjoyed watching quiz programmes on television. He was extremely keen on classical music and, together with his elder son, he regularly attended mid-week evening subscription concerts given by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool.

Robert married Eileen Gilbert in 1945. They had three children - Christopher, Hugh and Rosemary and two grand-daughters (Laura and Stephanie).

Christopher Todd

[Liverpool Daily Post 26 March 2008]

(Volume XII, page web)

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